BOOKS: Getting Lucky
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2005:
Getting Lucky by Susan Marino with Denise Flaim
Stewart, Tabori & Chang (c/o La Martiniere Groupe, 115 West 18th St.,
New York, NY 10011), 2005. 144 pages, hardcover. $18.95.
Susan Marino founded and runs the Angel’s Gate Animal Hospice
at her home on Long Island. Her nursing career, allied to a
dedication and commitment to unselfish giving of love, has given her
the ability to care for the countless ailing and injured animals who
are carried to her door.
Her door is open to all animals, regardless of species, and
here they find a loving sanctuary until death eventually claims them.
Getting Lucky is beautifully bound in glossy paper with color
portraits of the animals the book introduces. Each gets a chapter.
The result is somewhat processional, as one animal after another is
paraded before the reader. But the stories are charming and well
written, centering around a Great Dane called Lucky. The thematic
binding thread is that all life is precious, and should be preserved
as long as the animal would want it. Terminally ill animals are not
euthanized but instead are nursed until death occurs naturally.
“All of the animals at Angel’s Gate are special, but some,
like Lucky, commandeer you in an indescribably wrenching way: it’s
as if you share the same heart. And when their time begins to wane,
your emotions can push aside a lifetime’s worth of wisdom. All you
want is more–one more minute, one more day, one more furry nuzzle,
one more look into those knowing eyes.”
One tale which touched me was that of a young school boy.
Sixth grade students were hatching Peking ducklings in an incubator
as a class project. When the boy asked what would happen to the
ducks when they outgrew the science project, he was horrified to be
told that they would be slaughtered.
“Tim decided on the spot that that was not an acceptable
option. So he called around for days trying to find a refuge for the
fledgling ducks. Finally he found me. He told me his sad story,
concluding quietly, ‘Will you take my ducks?’ What do you think I
But when Tim arrived at Angel’s Gate, driven there by his
dad, he didn’t have the four ducks that he had described to me over
the phone. No, he had 24 ducks! Not only had he called on all his
classmates to round up all the other imperiled ducklings that had
been reared in other classes, but he had created such an uproar at
the school that the administration had vowed never to incubate any
eggs, Peking or otherwise, ever again.”
What this and the other stories tell me is how many adults
treat animals, especially the sick or injured, as throwaway pets,
and it takes a child to remind us of our moral duty to all sentient